Essay written at CLUI for the Wendover Residency Program, 2K4 (and rewritten 2K5)
Publication note: Outakes from Paradigmatic Performance: Data Flow and Practice in the Wild, published in Leonardo Electronic Almanac:
Stalbaum, Brett. "Paradigmatic Performance: Data Flow and Practice in the Wild." "Wild Nature and the Digital Life" Special Issue, Leonardo Electronic Almanac Vol 14, No. 7 - 8 (2006). 30 Nov. 2006 <http://www.leoalmanac.org/journal/Vol_14/lea_v14_n07-08/BStalbaum_LEA140708.pdf>.
Guest Editors: Sue Thomas and Dene Grigar, Part 2: Locative and Performative. Editor: Sue Thomas, Professor of New Media, De Montfort University, September 2006. Executive Editor: Nisar Keshvani.
Due to exclusive publication rights owned by LEA, the essay can not be reproduced here. (See LEA link.) However, the essay in LEA was written as part of a longer essay, Paradigmatic Performance: data flow and practice "in the wild", toward the sublime. The "toward the sublime" sections of the original essay are reproduced in context here as outakes.
This text was written during our Center for Land Use Interpretation Wendover residency (July 29th - August 15th 2K4, Wendover, Tooele County, UT, USA), in the neighborhood of Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels, and somewhat relative to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. And we were living on the first Utah property that they purchased: the remote location. So the implications of their work were very much in our minds as we worked on Remote Location 1:100,000 - stimulating and influential upon what became for me the notion of Paradigmatic Performance. The outakes parse and expand upon this influence. The extra sections "There is no non-site", "Turn to the real", "Being there", "Centrifugal", and "Moving the horizon of sublime" are presented in context here for informational purposes, along with the full abstract from LEA and a small section of the introduction that does not appear in LEA. The missing paragraphs which are published in LEA are marked "(paragraph omitted)" for reference.
A version of the "There is no Non-Site" section was presented at the FILE Electronic Language International Festival, FILE Symposium, SÃO PAULO/ BRAZIL, Nov 3rd 2K5, as part of C5's presentation of the C5 Landscape Initiative presentation.
Paradigmatic Performance: Data Flow and Practice in the Wild, toward the sublime
Abstract: An essay reflecting on the implications of recent work by C5 and Painters Flat wherein data and database play a principal role in determining location and performance. In it the notion of "paradigmatic performance", or allowing data to lead in the landscape, is defined. Data modeling is described as a non-visual representational practice that is intimately knitted into the fabric of the real, indicating that artists should pay attention to the relationships that emerge where data, and the real it derives from, interact generatively. Paradigmatic performance explores the intersection of data and the real via artist made technologies, with the goal of generating new configurations of exploration at time when it may be assumed that the Earth is already thoroughly explored. Paradigmatic performance is closely related to Robert Smithson's notion of the Non-site, which entailed many similar problems, but which arrived at different conclusions regarding the relationship between representation and site. Paradigmatic performance posits that cycles of differentiation and dedifferentiation in the Non-site (after Smithson), and beauty and the sublime (after Kant), are related frameworks which may activate performance and exploration in location aware, computational artistic practices such as digitally mediated performance and walking works "in the wild".
Keywords: Paradigmatic performance, locative media, land art, walking works, pictorial art, computer art, database, global positioning system, geographic information systems, the sublime.
An important issue intersecting with paradigmatic performance is the endless expanse of the sublime; an issue that has been renewed in the computational arts due to the emerging cultural issue of big data. We are focused on riding the frontier of sublimity as it recedes before us in a way that artists have not often engaged in since the romantic era; hopefully revealing spaces of inhabitable beauty as we go (as opposed to negating them), and approaching new frontiers of the sublime (new spaces for exploration) as they well up through the new ubiquity of data and information systems like thunderstorms on the horizon beyond. Paradigmatic performance, which in short is allowing the data to lead and to express co-agency, can foster further exploration and discovery in the landscape at a time when it is assumed that the landscape has been thoroughly explored, modeled, processed, and exploited.
Paradigmatic Performance Example I: A simple implementation of model-based (paradigmatic) performance
Figure 1. The installation at the CLUI Wendover Exhibit Hall
Paradigmatic Performance example II: new searching; pattern-matching the landscape
Paradigmatic Performance example III: going where the data says to go
Figure 2. "Other Remote Location 5", 12 T 267600 4545660 (NAD 27)
Figure 3. Paula sketching "Other Remote Location 3", 12 T 265500 4553130 (NAD 27)
Data as representational form
There is no Non-Site
Interestingly, the CLUI Remote Location was once co-owned by Robert Smithson and another towering figure of the high land art era, Nancy Holt. The significant intellectual legacy of both Smithson's negation of "site" in his Non-Sites, and the decades of site-specific practice that would follow early conceptual land art practice have cast a long and shadow on what we are now calling paradigmatic performance.
Robert Smithson is publicly best known for his monumental, conceptual, and simultaneously minimalist land art works such as Partially Buried Wood Shed (1970), Spiral Jetty (1970), and Amarillo Ramp (1973). Earlier, however, Smithson implemented his influential series of Non-Sites, works whose resonance in the art world continue today on an almost equal par with his monumental land art works. The Non-Sites, born in the crucible of 1960's conceptualist practice, aptly reflect the period in which the negationist foundations were laid for what would later be termed postmodernity. In these Non-Site works, my personal favorite being Double Non-Site, California and Nevada (1968), the artist would begin with a topographic map which would be divided into geometric areas. Smithson would visit the areas represented by the polygons superimposed on the map to collect rocks from the area represented by each mapped polygon. The gallery installation would consist of wooden bins constructed in the precise shape of the geometric design originally superimposed on the map, and the bins were filled with the rock collected from the corresponding areas of landscape. The original map, the plan for the work, was also displayed in the exhibit; stitching the connection (thought to be a negating connection), between the shape of the bins as a sculpture and the geographic/geologic source of the rocks. Writing on Smithson's Non-Sites, Nick Kaye explains the foundation of these works in terms of the Non-Site's negation of the original landscape:
[I]n its designation of a location's specific properties, its limits and its boundaries, the Non-Site effects precisely the kind of imposition in whose suspension Smithson supposes the site is experienced. Even in so far as the Non-Site casts the very idea of a work over a specific site, then it threatens to efface precisely that unbounded state that Smithson seeks to map. Here, in fact, the Non-Site reproduces the gallery's contradictory attempt to recollect, and so limit, the 'dedifferentiated' site. Thus, where the experience of the site is one of a limitlessness, the Non-Site establishes itself as a limiting mechanism, a differentiation, whose effect is not so much to expose the site as to erase it. Smithson observes that '[t]he site has no seeming limits, but the Non-Site points to the site. In a sense, the Non-Site, although it points to it, effaces this particular region.' 
The practice of paradigmatic performance can be related to Robert Smithson's notion of the differentiated and the dedifferentiated; in fact the fundamental issues that Smithson refers to remains active and generative issues today. But where Smithson saw the relationship as indicating an absence and a closure, we see paradigmatic performance as a way to push back the dedifferentiated into the differentiated, because it is the differentiated that functionally exposes new opportunities for facing the dedifferentiated in a potentially endless cycle of exploration. It is as in the truism "the more you know the more you know how much you don't know." Differentiation is a process that does not short-circuit or close off the limitlessness of the real through the effacement of the real by its model or any other mechanism. Rather, the model is a co-participant in the generation of the real, and the process through which it unfolds recursively simply reveals new horizons of limitlessness.
For Smithson the "unbounded state" of the "dedifferentiated site", and the "limitlessness" of the site refers specifically to an experience of place, which is an important matter. As I will discus, this mode of experience bears an important relationship to the sublime and the separate concept of beauty. In fact, it is precisely this distinction between the sublime and the beautiful which today maps to the distinction between data and information. Via these concepts, I argue that data representation does not efface or (in later postmodern terms 'replace'), the real site. A contemporary view would have it that it is representation that enables informed and productive experience of site, fostering successively improved representations, which in turn enable more informed experience fostering successively improved representations, perhaps ad infinitum. (Note: I am defining "improved" in the context of art, which should be however artists want to define it. I do not mean to imply a teleological notion.) The matters of sublime/beautiful, dedifferentiated/differentiated, and data/information are all respectively bound, and this is what provides conceptual potential to the various potential forms of paradigmatic performance. Thus we see an immense potential to expand and distribute understanding of the world at a time when we are tempted to assume that aesthetic practices are no longer useful in revealing knowledge about the landscape and our experience in it. The Non-site views the infinite recursion between the poles of differentiation and dedifferentiation as a conceptual short circuit. Paradigmatic performance views infinite recursion as productive of one thousand plateaus.
Turn to the real
Paradigmatic performance is formally related to Robert Smithson's Non-Sites only in that it finds its origin in mapping representations, and sometimes situates the physical materials from the site(s) into a gallery based representation in a geographically referenced configuration. An inherent part of this, for both Non-sites and paradigmatic performance, is that the mapping representation guides the activity in the landscape and the resulting exhibition representation. But the formal relationship ends here. Paradigmatic performance has a much different orientation toward data, information and their relationship to performance and experience; one that does not view data and information as a negation (as Smithson thought of his Non-Sites), nor as unreal or some other reality, but rather as part. Paradigmatic performance does not engage in a spiritual wrestling match with the white cube. Quite to the contrary, it views the white cube as one part and one responsibility among many parts and responsibilities; as part of the representational apparatus that at its most effective ultimately leads to new experience in the landscape, as much as it is derived from new experience in the landscape. It privileges the influence of data and information as an increasingly intimate part of the real, rather than their replacements or their negations. Thus, the relationship between the various mapping-representations in our work is intended to reveal something about the location and invite further activity. It does not efface it. It prehends it. It entails it.
Paradigmatic performance invites people to visit a location utilizing various data representations (including traditional cartographic maps) as orientation, but with the goal of fostering further representations, alternative mappings, alternative processing, and most importantly the joy and necessity of being there in the process. This is the difference between Non-site (effacing the site through representing it, and celebrating its disappearance into a conceptual plane) and paradigmatic performance (which wants to be there because of a representation instead of indulging in the representation). Paradigmatic performance invites participation in dedifferentiated experience through being there (just as post-non-site land art does), and the subsequent differentiating process of engaging in representation as a prelude to more being there. Maps are beautiful not only because they are informational distillations of larger data sets, but because beauty can guide you back toward the sublime via a recursive process of revealing. Paradigmatic performance seeks to expose the symmetry between the virtual and the real, because the virtual is an intimate participant in the real, not some imaginary or unreal. The virtual as part of the real impinges on the actual; as when one looks at a map, sees something curious, and decides to go there.  These views imply a number of ideas which paradigmatic performance addresses, and which constitute the remainder of this essay. The following are important aspects of artistic paradigmatic performance.
"[T]here is no substitute for being there, especially in these increasingly
Paradigmatic performance is experimentation on the edges of a data/representational practice. The most important issue is consciously participating with data in the process of going there. The potential role of paradigmatic performance practice in the arts is to act as a neutral and revealing process about the world, attempting something in culture emulating the ideal of scientific objectivity, (although free from strict assumptions about the attainment of pure objectivity). Paradigmatic performance looks for and listens for the symmetry between data and experience in the actual world. It tends to be reproducible, and involves going there and being there whether the object of study is site or location, and always seeks to do so with the participation of data processing. The goal is to produce not only cognizable, beautiful representations (differentiated), but to explore the potential for new discovery and further experience (dedifferentiated) to be further analyzed. Paradigmatic performance says something only because the research indicates it; it is not about artists making statements or expressing view points and is not congruent with dialogic or pedagogic practices in the arts. Nor is it hostile to these, or incapable of being hybrid, but it is just not the same as these.
Paradigmatic performance postpones the assumption that there is an origin and a destination, and that a journey is motivated by the need to navigate between points of interest. Destination is a less important goal than a whole experience. At a minimum the points from and between which navigation happens become specific abstractions: locations selected under and expanded analysis of why to be there, openly involving the mediation of software and database as replacements for human desire. Paradigmatic performance is nomadic and relatively unmotivated in comparison to destination hiking or following pre-ordained trails, unless of course the destinations or trails are computationally derived. It looks instead for meaning to opportunistically express itself in the process of going, instead of seeking to impress upon the land some predetermined meaning or interpretation. Paradigmatic performance grants the land, the data, the artist and the public freedom to interpret as they will; it operates as neutrally and as abstractly as possible.
Today, these are ideals, of course. In "Remote Location 1:100,000", for example, we followed arbitrary lines designated via the UTM coordinate system as the reason to go there, guided by United States military satellites, traversing a region surrounding a site selected by Holt and Smithson many decades ago, walking in straight (as possible) lines as Richard Long might, processing data collected by both the United States Geological Survey (digital form) and a hand trowel (salt mud), ultimately converting our interaction with and our situatedness within in these various mapping representations and site designations into other mapping representations (including paintings) and site designations that further characterize the site(s)/location(s). The representations reveal something previously unseen - the relation between small scale (cartographic scale in a 6x6 kilometer grid) and very large scale (a trowel full of salt mud). In theory, tertiary exploration processes (after the real, after modeling as data) can be carried out ad infinitum (back to the real), as in "Primary and Other Remote Locations", not only because there is so much more data to collect and process, but because it can be processed into so many different forms of informational representation, location, performance, and subsequent further guidance on the part of data. The best process for guiding the outcome of such practice is an interactive activity between place, people, data and representation focused on adding new layers of representation that function as maps for future experiments in data collection - always outward toward the sublime.
"While the datasets of today are as substantial as the ones dealt with in the
classical romantic sublime, there is a difference in direction and force.
The contemporary sublime is the extreme tension of knowing something, and like an addict, wanting to know even more; we are attracted by the fact that we can create new knowledge based upon what we have already learned through tertiary exploration. We are happy to pass through and to move on, restlessly, over and over again. Being there is important, but it also implies moving on and away; not to be too close for too long. Rather, we get close to A only because we are moving away from B. When we arrive at A, A becomes B. Recursion: another function cast on the stack. This is of course not actually possible on a Von Neumann machine (where memory is finite), but it is on a true Turing Machine, which is to say, it is at least possible as an ideal, if not technically so in terms of the finite computational machinery we utilize today. Return is optional, and yes, run time errors may lead to terminal states, but there is knowledge in failure just as there is in success. It is from the position of preexisting knowledge that we centrifugally desire to move away from the site of appreciation and analyze that which surrounds it: exploring context, spreading out, and thereby resituating from site toward a succession of locations, to move from the marked term to the unmarked term. Expanding (for example) from 40 acres once owned by Holt and Smithson into the surrounding 36 square kilometers of salt flats that surrounds it, out into the surrounding island mountain ranges, or from China to California. Our computational and database culture utilizes discrete state machines with finite limitations to pry open endless possibilities at the edges of sublimity in a natural universe which has no well understood theoretical limits on its finite processing.
Moving the horizon of sublime
[I]f we enlarge our empirical faculty of representation
(mathematical or dynamical) with a view to the intuition of nature, reason inevitably steps
forward, as the faculty concerned with the independence of the absolute totality, and calls
forth the effort of the mind, unavailing though it be, to make representation of sense adequate
to this totality. This effort, and the feeling of the unattainability of the idea by means of
imagination, is itself a presentation of the subjective finality of our mind in the employment
of the imagination in the interests of the mind's supersensible province, and compels us
subjectively to think nature itself in its totality as a presentation of something supersensible,
without our being able to effectuate this presentation objectively.
Paradigmatic performance allows the productive experience of location, indicating just one potential mode for a more general practice related and perhaps a more general turn toward productive theory, (as opposed to the current academic focus on critical theory.) The concepts of beauty and sublime play a role, literally and metaphorically, in how productive experience and a general productive theory might unfold. Beauty is traditionally defined as pleasing, symmetrical, proportional or rhythmic. It is a concern of form and a human capacity to cognize it. Kant describes it as "[T]he cognitive powers brought into play by [the] presentation [of the beautiful object] in free play... Hence the mental state in this presentation must be a feeling, accompanying the given presentation, of a free play of the presentational powers to directed to cognition in general... [W]e need imagination... and understanding to provide the unity of the concept combining in the components of the presentation. 
But in the art world after conceptualism, we no longer need to associate the presentation of the beautiful with the concerns of the aesthete. Beauty's definition can now be mapped to work presenting cognizable, pedagogical, interpretive, and instructional configurations conveying knowledge; of work whose message, interpretation and the 'voice' of the artist is present, available and intentionally informational. Political or not, such art work has a message or a conclusion related to the artist's intentions. Data is processed and digested for the audience. It is the art of information.
The definition of the sublime is somewhat more complicated. During the 20th century, the common use of the term drifted toward the definition of beauty. Most people today use the term "sublime" to mean a kind of hyper-beauty, a more beautiful than beautiful beauty. Kant himself pointed out that indeed, both terms refer to a kind of disinterested, contemplative emotional state. But it is where the meaning of 'the sublime' verges on something like 'inexpressible beauty' that the meaning of the word begins to take a semblance of a more useful definition: a state of mind or perception wherein the viewer is overwhelmed and unable to process the data that they have been exposed to. A beautiful sunset activates the senses, producing a pleasurable experience of understanding. A sublime sunset activates the senses in a different manner; one which may be emotionally imbued with anything from the pleasure of awe to abject fear and confusion. The sublime is not a sensation of understanding, but of trying to understand. It heightens the sense of the unknown and throws the human cognitive system into a state of uncertainty that humans are nevertheless able to deal with via our inductive and inferential intelligences. This sense of the sublime is a necessary capability for investigation and discovery, because it is expressed in humans on the verge of understanding something too large for their deductive modes of cognition to accommodate. It is inductive and intuitive.
Kant described the difference between the beautiful and the sublime, presenting them in terms of beauty being associated with contemplation of form and quality, and the sublime associated with the contemplation of limitless quantities; so large as to appear formless to our senses:
"The beautiful in nature is a question of the form of object, and this consists in limitation, whereas the sublime is to be found in an object even devoid of form, so far as it immediately involves, or else by its presence provokes a representation of limitlessness, yet with a superadded thought of its totality. Accordingly, the beautiful seems to be regarded as a presentation of an indeterminate concept of understanding, the sublime as a presentation of an indeterminate concept of reason. Hence the delight is in the former case coupled with the representation of quality, but in this case with that of quantity."
Interpretively, we may extract from all of this that the pursuit of information is the pursuit of the beautiful, and that the pursuit of data - such as the limitless quantities now being produced by the big data disciplines of the earth sciences, astronomy, biology, and intelligence gathering - is the pursuit of the sublime. Information, which by definition must be processed from data, shows the symmetry, proportion, and congruity that can be found in a data set. Beauty tells us something with clarity and a certain force, it leads to knowledge. Data, by contrast is the less visible representational form that impinges ever more of our existence today; it is large and overwhelming to the senses, and we are entailed by it. The former implies a resting point for understanding as moments of clarity and truth, the later implies an impulse for exploration and new data collection, an always moving desire to stir things up and create new problems to face. How artists implement their forms of expression between information and data, and the transitory positions between them as they transform in infinite recursive expansion, is the central aesthetic issue of our time.
As indicated earlier in the essay, I believe these ideas can be related to Smithson's notion of the "differentiated" and the "dedifferentiated", demonstrating once again that the conceptual importance of his work and writings were far ahead of their time. But where Smithson saw the relationship as indicating an absence and a closure, we see paradigmatic performance as a way to push back the dedifferentiated into the differentiated, because it is the differentiated that exposes new opportunities for facing the dedifferentiated in a potentially endless cycle of exploration; a process that is not short-circuited or closed off by the effacement of the real by its model. Nick Kaye verges on something very much like this analysis in his reading of Smithson when he states "The Non-Site... marks the unavailability of the site as 'presence' or 'object', prompting a rhythm of appearance and disappearance which challenges the concept of the site as a permanent, knowable whole."  This rhythm of "appearance and disappearance" is an apt way to describe the process of engagement with the sublime, wrestling with its wonder, in turn revealing what beauty can be found in it, but remaining open to its invitation to further exploration, in turn exposing yet more plateaus of the sublime. Data processed into information raises questions that lead recursively to more data collection and processing into information. The cycle of the differentiation and dedifferentiation, beauty and sublime, information and data represent a framework in which to engage with paradigmatic performance as expansion toward the sublime.